WO1991003145A1 - Six axis machine tool - Google Patents

Six axis machine tool Download PDF

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Publication number
WO1991003145A1
WO1991003145A1 PCT/US1990/004797 US9004797W WO9103145A1 WO 1991003145 A1 WO1991003145 A1 WO 1991003145A1 US 9004797 W US9004797 W US 9004797W WO 9103145 A1 WO9103145 A1 WO 9103145A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
leg
legs
platform
supports
support
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1990/004797
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Paul C. Sheldon
Edward C. Kirkham
Lyle D. Ostby
Bruce P. Konkel
Original Assignee
Kearney & Trecker Corporation
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US07/401,909 priority Critical patent/US5028180A/en
Priority to US401,909 priority
Application filed by Kearney & Trecker Corporation filed Critical Kearney & Trecker Corporation
Priority claimed from KR92700466A external-priority patent/KR950006371B1/en
Publication of WO1991003145A1 publication Critical patent/WO1991003145A1/en

Links

Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23QDETAILS, COMPONENTS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR MACHINE TOOLS, e.g. ARRANGEMENTS FOR COPYING OR CONTROLLING; MACHINE TOOLS IN GENERAL CHARACTERISED BY THE CONSTRUCTION OF PARTICULAR DETAILS OR COMPONENTS; COMBINATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS OF METAL-WORKING MACHINES, NOT DIRECTED TO A PARTICULAR RESULT
    • B23Q11/00Accessories fitted to machine tools for keeping tools or parts of the machine in good working condition or for cooling work; Safety devices specially combined with or arranged in, or specially adapted for use in connection with, machine tools
    • B23Q11/0032Arrangements for preventing or isolating vibrations in parts of the machine
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23QDETAILS, COMPONENTS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR MACHINE TOOLS, e.g. ARRANGEMENTS FOR COPYING OR CONTROLLING; MACHINE TOOLS IN GENERAL CHARACTERISED BY THE CONSTRUCTION OF PARTICULAR DETAILS OR COMPONENTS; COMBINATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS OF METAL-WORKING MACHINES, NOT DIRECTED TO A PARTICULAR RESULT
    • B23Q1/00Members which are comprised in the general build-up of a form of machine, particularly relatively large fixed members
    • B23Q1/25Movable or adjustable work or tool supports
    • B23Q1/44Movable or adjustable work or tool supports using particular mechanisms
    • B23Q1/50Movable or adjustable work or tool supports using particular mechanisms with rotating pairs only, the rotating pairs being the first two elements of the mechanism
    • B23Q1/54Movable or adjustable work or tool supports using particular mechanisms with rotating pairs only, the rotating pairs being the first two elements of the mechanism two rotating pairs only
    • B23Q1/545Movable or adjustable work or tool supports using particular mechanisms with rotating pairs only, the rotating pairs being the first two elements of the mechanism two rotating pairs only comprising spherical surfaces
    • B23Q1/5462Movable or adjustable work or tool supports using particular mechanisms with rotating pairs only, the rotating pairs being the first two elements of the mechanism two rotating pairs only comprising spherical surfaces with one supplementary sliding pair
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23QDETAILS, COMPONENTS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR MACHINE TOOLS, e.g. ARRANGEMENTS FOR COPYING OR CONTROLLING; MACHINE TOOLS IN GENERAL CHARACTERISED BY THE CONSTRUCTION OF PARTICULAR DETAILS OR COMPONENTS; COMBINATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS OF METAL-WORKING MACHINES, NOT DIRECTED TO A PARTICULAR RESULT
    • B23Q17/00Arrangements for observing, indicating or measuring on machine tools
    • B23Q17/24Arrangements for observing, indicating or measuring on machine tools using optics or electromagnetic waves
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B23MACHINE TOOLS; METAL-WORKING NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B23QDETAILS, COMPONENTS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR MACHINE TOOLS, e.g. ARRANGEMENTS FOR COPYING OR CONTROLLING; MACHINE TOOLS IN GENERAL CHARACTERISED BY THE CONSTRUCTION OF PARTICULAR DETAILS OR COMPONENTS; COMBINATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS OF METAL-WORKING MACHINES, NOT DIRECTED TO A PARTICULAR RESULT
    • B23Q5/00Driving or feeding mechanisms; Control arrangements therefor
    • B23Q5/22Feeding members carrying tools or work
    • B23Q5/34Feeding other members supporting tools or work, e.g. saddles, tool-slides, through mechanical transmission
    • B23Q5/38Feeding other members supporting tools or work, e.g. saddles, tool-slides, through mechanical transmission feeding continuously
    • B23Q5/40Feeding other members supporting tools or work, e.g. saddles, tool-slides, through mechanical transmission feeding continuously by feed shaft, e.g. lead screw
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25JMANIPULATORS; CHAMBERS PROVIDED WITH MANIPULATION DEVICES
    • B25J17/00Joints
    • B25J17/02Wrist joints
    • B25J17/0208Compliance devices
    • B25J17/0216Compliance devices comprising a stewart mechanism
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25JMANIPULATORS; CHAMBERS PROVIDED WITH MANIPULATION DEVICES
    • B25J9/00Programme-controlled manipulators
    • B25J9/16Programme controls
    • B25J9/1615Programme controls characterised by special kind of manipulator, e.g. planar, scara, gantry, cantilever, space, closed chain, passive/active joints and tendon driven manipulators
    • B25J9/1623Parallel manipulator, Stewart platform, links are attached to a common base and to a common platform, plate which is moved parallel to the base
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B19/00Programme-control systems
    • G05B19/02Programme-control systems electric
    • G05B19/18Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form
    • G05B19/19Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form characterised by positioning or contouring control systems, e.g. to control position from one programmed point to another or to control movement along a programmed continuous path
    • G05B19/21Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form characterised by positioning or contouring control systems, e.g. to control position from one programmed point to another or to control movement along a programmed continuous path using an incremental digital measuring device
    • G05B19/23Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form characterised by positioning or contouring control systems, e.g. to control position from one programmed point to another or to control movement along a programmed continuous path using an incremental digital measuring device for point-to-point control
    • G05B19/231Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form characterised by positioning or contouring control systems, e.g. to control position from one programmed point to another or to control movement along a programmed continuous path using an incremental digital measuring device for point-to-point control the positional error is used to control continuously the servomotor according to its magnitude
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B19/00Programme-control systems
    • G05B19/02Programme-control systems electric
    • G05B19/18Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form
    • G05B19/401Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form characterised by control arrangements for measuring, e.g. calibration and initialisation, measuring workpiece for machining purposes
    • G05B19/4015Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form characterised by control arrangements for measuring, e.g. calibration and initialisation, measuring workpiece for machining purposes going to a reference at the beginning of machine cycle, e.g. for calibration
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B19/00Programme-control systems
    • G05B19/02Programme-control systems electric
    • G05B19/18Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form
    • G05B19/408Numerical control [NC], i.e. automatically operating machines, in particular machine tools, e.g. in a manufacturing environment, so as to execute positioning, movement or co-ordinated operations by means of programme data in numerical form characterised by data handling or data format, e.g. reading, buffering or conversion of data
    • G05B19/4086Coordinate conversions; Other special calculations
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B2219/00Program-control systems
    • G05B2219/30Nc systems
    • G05B2219/41Servomotor, servo controller till figures
    • G05B2219/41309Hydraulic or pneumatic drive
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B2219/00Program-control systems
    • G05B2219/30Nc systems
    • G05B2219/41Servomotor, servo controller till figures
    • G05B2219/41481Divide command, block in subcommands, subblocks
    • GPHYSICS
    • G05CONTROLLING; REGULATING
    • G05BCONTROL OR REGULATING SYSTEMS IN GENERAL; FUNCTIONAL ELEMENTS OF SUCH SYSTEMS; MONITORING OR TESTING ARRANGEMENTS FOR SUCH SYSTEMS OR ELEMENTS
    • G05B2219/00Program-control systems
    • G05B2219/30Nc systems
    • G05B2219/49Nc machine tool, till multiple
    • G05B2219/49257Six or more linear drives to position x y z table
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T403/00Joints and connections
    • Y10T403/32Articulated members
    • Y10T403/32008Plural distinct articulation axes
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T403/00Joints and connections
    • Y10T403/32Articulated members
    • Y10T403/32606Pivoted
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T403/00Joints and connections
    • Y10T403/32Articulated members
    • Y10T403/32606Pivoted
    • Y10T403/32861T-pivot, e.g., wrist pin, etc.
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T403/00Joints and connections
    • Y10T403/32Articulated members
    • Y10T403/32606Pivoted
    • Y10T403/32861T-pivot, e.g., wrist pin, etc.
    • Y10T403/32918T-pivot, e.g., wrist pin, etc. fork and tongue
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T408/00Cutting by use of rotating axially moving tool
    • Y10T408/91Machine frame
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T409/00Gear cutting, milling, or planing
    • Y10T409/30Milling
    • Y10T409/304536Milling including means to infeed work to cutter
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T409/00Gear cutting, milling, or planing
    • Y10T409/30Milling
    • Y10T409/306664Milling including means to infeed rotary cutter toward work
    • Y10T409/307672Angularly adjustable cutter head
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T409/00Gear cutting, milling, or planing
    • Y10T409/30Milling
    • Y10T409/30784Milling including means to adustably position cutter
    • Y10T409/308512Compound angular adjustment
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T409/00Gear cutting, milling, or planing
    • Y10T409/30Milling
    • Y10T409/309576Machine frame

Abstract

A machine such as a machine tool includes a pair of spaced platforms. One platform (11, 31, 185, 72, 159, 142) may mount an operator such as a tool in a spindle and the other platforms (10, 20, 180, 170, 144, 163) may mount an object such as a workpiece. The spaced platforms are joined by six powered and extensible legs (20-25, 40-45, 64-69, 145-150, 166, 182-84, 187-89) joined to the respective platforms by universal joints. The length of the legs is individually manipulated to vary the position of the platforms and, therefore, the object and operator relative to each other in six axes. The powered legs may be hydraulic cylinders (20-25) or recirculating ball screw driven (195, 197, 198). The distance between the spaced platforms may be measured by separate extensible instrument arms (130, 131, 171) which join the platforms. The instrument arms may use a digital position device (238, 240) to measure the extension and contraction of the instrument arms or may use a laser interferometer (267) for that purpose. The changes in the length of the instrument arms may be used to generate signals that control the extension and contraction of the powered legs. A method is also disclosed for converting part program coordinate block instructions into instructions for varying the length of the powered legs.

Description

SIX AXIS MACHINE TOOL

Background of the Invention This invention relates to a machine for locating an operator with respect to an object, and more particularly to a versatile machine tool in which the tool can be moved in three lineal directions and three rotational directions in relation to the surface of a workpiece.

The most versatile form of cutting tool type machine tool presently in use is the so-called machining center which typically can accomplish milling, drilling, boring and tapping operations in up to five axes of movement, the three linear orthagonal axes and two rota¬ tional directions. Since its introduction over thirty years ago, the ma¬ chining center's basic components have not changed. They typically include a bed, an upright column and a spindle head carried by the col¬ umn. A rotary table for holding a workpiece is typically mounted on the bed and provides one of the rotary directions of motion. The col¬ umn and table move relative to each other for one of the linear direc¬ tions of motion, the spindle head and table move relative to each other in a vertical direction for a second linear axis of motion, and the spin¬ dle head and workpiece move horizontally with respect to each other for the third linear direction of motion. The fifth axis is provided by rotating the spindle head or the work table in a vertical plane relative to each other.

A sixth axis of rotary motion is available in the present ma¬ chining centers by controlling the angular position of the spindle. The present machining centers may have either a horizontal spindle or a vertical spindle and they typically are controlled by computer numeri¬ cal control. The machining centers usually have mechanisms for au¬ tomatically changing tools from and to a magazine of tools associated with the machining center, and will often have automatic workpiece handling as well.

To achieve the full six axes of motions in a present machin¬ ing center requires that the movements of the table, column, spindle head, spindle, and bed be coordinated and that these sometimes mas¬ sive components be moved in very controllable finite increments. Be- cause all of these components are being moved, many times simulta- neously under computer numerical control, accuracy requires a rigidity to the components and an accurate path through which the compo¬ nents can be moved. This has resulted in the development of more rigid and massive components such as for the bed and column and very expensive and finely formed ways along which the components can travel relative to each other in the linear directions.

Although the modern machining center provides very accu¬ rate machining, the machining center becomes very complex and ex¬ pensive when it is designed to provide the maximum versatility of be- ing able to machine any point on the exposed five surfaces of the typi¬ cal cubic workpiece.

Summary of the Invention Instead of being constrained by the typical construction of machine tools as exemplified by the modern machining center, our in- vention focuses on the ultimate task of bringing a tool to bear against a workpiece. To accomplish this task with the greatest degree of flexibil¬ ity, our invention has the effect of suspending the spindle in air rela- tive to the workpiece on a plurality of leg-like members that are con¬ nected between a support for the workpiece and a support for the spin- die. The leg members can be manipulated by a plurality of actuators to position the spindle. The tool being held by the spindle can thereby be brought to bear against any exposed surface of the workpiece because the spindle can be moved through space in three orthagonal linear di¬ rections and in three rotational directions about each of the linear axes. Furthermore, all six degrees of freedom of motion are actively control¬ lable in our unique arrangement. This contrasts with the typical ma¬ chine tool in which several moving parts each have six degrees of free¬ dom of motion and most are not actively controlled. Also unlike the typical machine tool, the sixth axis in our arrangement allows angular orientation of the tool or other operator. An example would be the an¬ gular orientation of a multiple tool head in a spindle.

Although our invention finds particular use in machine tools, it is useful for locating other types of operators relative to an ob¬ ject and can be used with multiple forms of tools other than the typical rotary cutting tools. It can also be used to simply position two plat¬ forms relative to each other.

In summary, in the broadest sense our invention relates to a machine for locating an operator relative to an object which comprises supports for the operator and object that are spaced from each other, six leg members with each leg member being joined at spaced points along the leg member to the two supports, the areas circumscribed by the junctions of the leg members in the two supports being substantially the same, together with means for individually manipulating at least certain of the leg members to vary the position of the points of such leg members relative to each other, and to thereby alter the position of the operator with respect to the object.

Also in the broadest sense, our invention relates to a ma¬ chine tool for locating a tool relative to a workpiece in which the tool is located relative to a first support, the workpiece is located relative to a second support, the two supports are connected by six legs with means for manipulating the legs to vary the lengths of the legs.

Preferably, the machine also includes means for sensing the changes in position of the points of the leg members, and control means responsive to the sensing means, for coordinating the manipu¬ lating means.

In the preferred embodiments, the junctions of the six legs to the two supports generally define edges of a regular octahedron or the junctions of the leg members to the supports define the corners of a six- sided polyhedron in each support.

In the preferred embodiments, the leg members are six lin¬ early extensible legs and the manipulating means includes an actuator for each leg for individually extending and contracting the length of the leg. The six leg members are arranged in pairs and the leg members of each pair are at an angle relative to each other. The sensing means may be formed as part of a plurality of instrument arms. The instru¬ ment arms are joined between the supports in a known relationship to the leg member so that a change in position of the points on the leg members is translated into a changes in length of the instrument arm. Our invention also relates to preferred forms of extensible powered legs and instrument arms that find use in the machines and mechanisms of the invention but which may also be usable for other purposes. In the preferred embodiments, one of the supports, such as the support mounting a workpiece, may be mounted on the floor as a base while the other support is held above the base by the six legs. Fur¬ thermore, the base may include columns that mount the ends of three legs disposed generally in the plane of the upper support while three more legs extend between the base and the upper support. Alterna¬ tively, the upper support may be stationary, such as supported on columns rising from a floor, while the second support is suspended beneath it on the six legs.

Our invention also comprises a method of locating an opera- tor, such as a tool, relative to an object, such as a workpiece, by locating the operator relative to a first support and locating the object relative to a second support, connecting the supports together by six extensible legs, and manipulating the length of the legs to provide up to three linear degrees of motion and three rotational degrees of motion, or any combination thereof, to the tool relative to the workpiece.

Our invention also relates to a method of converting stan¬ dard part program machine coordinate instructions into instructions that relate solely to changes in the length of the legs. The method in¬ volves converting initial and final positions of the ends of the legs into vectors which are then manipulated to determine changes in the length of the leg and which may also be used to determine changes in the rate of change of the length of the legs.

The tool or other operator may be a rotating cutting tool, a wire saw, a nozzle for an oxyacetylene or plasma torch, a laser beam, an electric discharge wire, a probe or other measuring device, a drafting pen, sewing or knitting needles, grips, and so forth without limitation. The tool or other operator may be held stationary while the workpiece or other object is moved, or vice versa.

It is a principal object of this invention to provide a machine for bringing an operator, such as a tool, into contact with an object, such as a workpiece, with the maximum degree of freedom of motion of the operator with respect to the object.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a novel ma¬ chine tool structure for supporting a tool relative to a workpiece while providing six degrees of freedom of motion of the tool with respect to the workpiece.

It is another object of the invention to provide a machine tool having six degrees of freedom of motion with each degree of mo¬ tion under active control. It is also an object of the invention to provide a machine for bringing an operator into contact with an object in which the position of the operator relative to the object is sensed independently of the mechanisms for moving the operator relative to the object.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide a machine which is structurally stiff and operationally stable while providing maximum degrees of motion of an operator relative to an object.

The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the inven¬ tion will appear in the detailed description that follows. In the descrip¬ tion, reference is made to the drawings which illustrate several pre- ferred embodiments of the invention.

Brief Description of the Drawings Fig. 1 is a view in elevation of a machine tool in accordance with the invention;

Fig. 2 is a top plan view of the machine tool of Fig. 1; Fig. 3 is a view in perspective of a second embodiment of a machine tool in accordance with the present invention;

Fig. 4 is a view in elevation of the machine tool of Fig. 3; Fig. 5 is a top view of the machine tool of Figs. 3 and 4 as viewed through the section of the plane 5-5 of Fig. 4; Fig. 6 is a view in elevation of a third embodiment of a ma¬ chine tool in accordance with the invention;

Fig. 7 is a partial view in elevation of a leg and instrument arm arrangement usable with any of the embodiments;

Fig. 8 is a schematic view of a control for a machine tool in accordance with the invention; Fig. 9 is a schematic diagram of a second embodiment of a control;

Fig. 10 is a schematic diagram of a third embodiment of a con- trol; Fig. 11 is a view in perspective of a fourth embodiment of a machine tool in accordance with the invention;

Fig. 12 is a view in perspective of a fifth embodiment of a ma¬ chine tool in accordance with the invention;

Fig. 13 is a view in perspective of a sixth embodiment of a machine tool in accordance with the invention;

Fig. 14 is a view in longitudinal section of a powered extensi¬ ble leg usable with the machine tools;

Fig. 15 is a partial view in longitudinal cross section, to an en¬ larged scale, of one of the yoke assemblies for connecting the powered leg to a platform or support;

Fig. 16 is a view in longitudinal cross section through the yoke assembly of Fig. 15 and taken in the plane of the line 16-16 in Fig. 14;

Fig. 17 is a view in perspective of the yoke assembly of Figs. 15 and 16;

Fig. 18 is a foreshortened view in longitudinal cross-section of an instrument arm usable with the machine tools;

Fig. 19 is a view in section of one end of the instrument arm of Fig. 18 and taken in the plane 19-19 in Fig. 18; Fig. 20 is a schematic view of an instrument arm using a laser interferometer for measuring distances; and

Fig. 21 is a vector diagram illustrating a method for determin¬ ing position commands for the legs of the machine tools.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments Referring to Figs. 1 and 2, the machine tool of the first em¬ bodiment has a base 10 in the nature of a support or platform and a spindle support or platform 11 spaced from the base 10. A spindle head 12 is mounted on the spindle platform 11 and is adapted to receive a ro¬ tating cutting tool 13. A spindle drive assembly indicated generally by the numeral 14 is mounted on the spindle platform 11 and the drive includes a motor 15 connected by a power train to the spindle head 12 in a usual manner. The base platform 10 carries a workpiece support 16 which in turn receives a workpiece represented by the part 17.

The spaced platforms 10 and 11 are joined together by six powered and extensible legs 20-25. Each of the legs is pivotally mounted at its lower extremity to the base platform 10 by a ball and socket joint 26. Similarly, each of the upper ends of the legs 20-25 is pivotally attached to the spindle platform 11 by a second ball and socket joint 27. The legs 20-25 may be formed of telescoping upper and lower parts 20a and 20b, for example. The telescoping parts may be the piston rod 20a and cylinder 20b of a hydraulic cylinder. The length of such legs can be adjusted by controlling the volume of hydraulic fluid in each end of each cylinder. The position of the spindle support 11 relative to the base support 10 and therefore the position of the cutting tool 13 relative to the workpiece 17 can be adjusted by simultaneously manipulating the length of each of the six legs 20-25. Within an envelope of motion the cutting tool 13 can be applied against all five exposed surfaces of a cubic type workpiece. The only constraints to the envelope of motion rela¬ tive to the five exposed surfaces are the spread of the joints 26 on the base support 10 and the spread of the second joints 27 on the spindle support 11, the minimum and maximum length of the legs 20-25, the total range of linear motion of each of the legs, and the need to avoid placing certain legs in a common plane for purposes of stability. Within the envelope of motion, this construction allows the machin¬ ing of contours in three dimensions as well as straight line point-to- point machining.

The simultaneous manipulation of the length of each of the legs 20-25 can achieve motion in all six axes. That is, motion in a linear direction along each of the three orthagonal axes and rotary motion about each of those three axes.

In the embodiment of Figs. 1 and 2, the six legs may be con¬ sidered to be arranged in three pairs. That is, the legs 20 and 21 consti- tute a pair, the legs 22 and 23 constitute a second pair, and the legs 24 -8-

and 25 constitute a third pair. It should be noted that the legs of each pair are arranged so that they are at an angle with respect to each other. The joints 26 of the pair of legs 20 and 21 are close to each other. The joints 27 of adjacent legs 20 and 25, for example, are also close to each other. The effect is that the lower joints 26 generally define a triangle and the upper joints 27 also generally define a triangle. These two tri¬ angles and the six legs generally define edges of an octahedron. As shown in Figs. 1 and 2, the area of the base platform 10 circumscribed by the lower ball joints 26 and the area of the spindle support 11 circum- scribed by the upper ball joints 27 are substantially the same. This is advantageous for several reasons. First, such an arrangement maxi¬ mizes the structural stiffness of the machine. Secondly, the footprint of the machine is minimized for a particular cubic size of workpiece to be handled. Also, a greater envelope of surface area for the workpiece can be accommodated before certain legs and supports are positioned in a common plane thereby creating a potentially ambiguous position.

Referring to Figs. 3-5, the second embodiment includes a base support or platform 30, a spindle support 31- which mounts a spindle head 32 adapted to receive a cutting tool 33. The spindle head is rotated by a spindle drive 34. The base support 30 and spindle support 31 are connected by six extensible legs 40-45. The legs are arranged in three pairs such as the pair 40 and 41 and legs of each pair cross each other so that they are again mounted at an angle with respect to each other. The legs 40-45 are also formed of telescoping upper and lower elements 40a and 40b, for example.

The legs 40-45 are joined to the base support 30 at a first point near their lower end by a joint indicated generally by the numeral 50. The joint 50 includes a clevis 51 mounted for rotation about the axis of a shaft 52 that projects from the base support 30. A typical trunnion 53 engages the lower element 40b-45b of each leg and is rotatably mounted in a clevis 51. It will thus be seen that a joint 50 provides two degrees of freedom of movement.

The upper telescoping portions 40a-45a of the legs are simi¬ larly joined to the spindle support 31 at second points along the length of the legs by joints 54. The joints 54 likewise consist of a clevis 55 ro- tatably mounted on a shaft 56 extending downwardly from the under¬ side of the spindle support 31 and a trunnion 57 which supports the upper leg portions 40a et seq. in the clevis 55. As can be seen in Fig. 5 in particular, the joints 50 and 54 and their attachments to the supports 30 and 31 define the corners of a six-sided polygon in each of the two sup¬ ports. As is apparent from Figs. 3-5, the area of the base support 30 that is circumscribed by the connections of six lower joints 50 with the base support 30 is substantially the same as the area of the spindle support 31 that is circumscribed by the connections of the six upper joints 54 with the spindle support 31.

The shafts 52 and 56 of the joints 50 and 54 can be mounted in their respective supports to project in any direction. The ball joints of the first embodiment could also be used in this second embodiment, and the trunnion joints of this second embodiment could be used in the first.

The base support 30 mounts a workpiece support 58 which holds a workpiece exemplified by the part 59.

The legs 40-45 may also be formed as hydraulic cylinders with the piston rod defining the upper end 40a et seq. and the cylinder por- tion forming the lower ends 40b et seq. Because the piston rod can ro¬ tate within the cylinder, the two degrees of motion afforded at each of the joints 50 and 54 are sufficient. If the upper and lower portions of the actuators forming the legs cannot be allowed to twist, an actuator other than a hydraulic cylinder is used to accomplish the extension, and a third degree of rotational motion will be required in one or the other of the upper and lower joints 50 and 54. In the leg of Figs. 14-17, an additional degree of motion is required in the joints or compensa¬ tion must be provided for the linear inaccuracy resulting from relative rotation of the telescoping parts introduced by slight angular displace- ment of the yoke assemblies relative to each other. Instead of using hy¬ draulic cylinders as the actuators for the legs, any means for achieving linear motion can be used such as forming the upper portion of each leg as a lead screw and mounting a rotating nut in the lower portion of the leg or vice versa. Alternatives are linear motors, recirculating ball screw drives, chain drives, and so forth. In the third embodiment of Fig. 6, neither the tool nor the workpiece is located within the envelope defined by the leg structure. The workpiece 60 is mounted on a workpiece support 61 which in turn is mounted on a base 62 that is attached to an upright 63. The six legs 64-69 are connected at one end to the upright 63 by trunnion joints 70 in a manner similar to that of the second embodiment. The opposite ends of the legs 64-69 are connected by trunnion joints 71 to the spindle support 72. The spindle support carries a spindle 73 adapted to mount a tool 74 and the spindle 73 is driven by a spindle drive 75. The tool 74 projects away from the envelope defined by the legs 64-69. The third embodiment is otherwise the same as the first embodiment.

In the third embodiment, the workpiece support 61 may be mounted on ways supported by the base 62 so that the workpiece sup¬ port 61 with the workpiece 60 may move relative to the tool 74. Even though the workpiece 60 is not mounted on the upright 63, the work¬ piece location relative to the upright support 63 can be fixed, or at least known, at any instant in time.

Other arrangements of spindle and workpiece can also be employed, such as mounting the workpiece above the spindle or mounting an upright 63 as in the third embodiment of Fig. 6 on ways so that it can travel along the length of a workpiece.

The legs must be moved in a coordinated manner in order to position the supports or platforms relative to each other. The coordi¬ nated movement is preferably accomplished by a computer control which provides a position signal for each leg to achieve a desired posi¬ tion for the spindle platform relative to the base platform and therefore for the cutting tool relative to the workpiece. Suitable control schemes are illustrated in Figs. 8 and 9. In Fig. 8, the leg in the form of a hy¬ draulic cylinder such as the legs 20-25 are controlled by a servo valve 100 which controls the volume of hydraulic fluid in the cylinder on each side of the piston and therefore the position of the piston rod within the cylinder. A computer 101 produces an output position command in the line 102. That position command is compared in a summing circuit 103 with a feedback position signal in a line 104 lead- ing from an exciter /demodulator 105 that receives the signal from a sensing head 106 traveling along a magnetic scale 107. The sensing head 106 is coupled to the piston rod 20a et seq. so that changes in posi¬ tion of the piston rod will be reflected in changes in position of the sensing head 106 along the magnetic scale 107 which is at a known po- sition, either fixed or varying, with respect to the hydraulic cylinder 20b et seq. The summing circuit 103 produces a position error signal in a line 108 which inputs to an integration network 109, the output of which is a velocity command in a line 110. The velodty command is compared with a velocity feedback signal in a line 111 leading from the exdter/demodulator 105 and the two signals are fed to a summing dr- cuit 112 which produces an output signal representative of a velodty error. This velodty error signal is fed to a compensation network 113 where phase shift compensation takes place, and the resulting compen¬ sated signal is fed to an amplifier 114 which in turn controls the servo valve 100.

A similar control loop leading from the computer would be provided for each of the six legs 20-25 and the computer 101 would generate an output position command for the desired position of each of the six legs to achieve a particular finite position of the cutting tool relative to the workpiece.

The control arrangement of Fig. 9 is similar to that of Fig. 8 but is shown in relation to a motor 120 rotating a lead screw and nut arrangement. An encoder or resolver 121 is connected to the motor 120 to provide a position feedback signal through the exdter/demodulator 122, and that position signal is compared at a summing junction 123 with the position command from the computer 61 to produce a posi¬ tion error signal fed to the integration network 124 which outputs a ve¬ locity command compared at a summing junction 125 with the veloc¬ ity position signal from a tachometer 126 connected to the motor 120. A compensation network 127 functions to produce an appropriate sig¬ nal to an amplifier 128 connected to the motor drive. Once again, there would be a similar loop for each of the six legs of the machine.

The control schemes of Figs. 8 and 9 employ closed loop con¬ trol. However, by using a stepping motor it is not necessary to have a -12-

dosed loop control. An example of a control system using a stepping motor is shown in Fig. 10.

Position signals can be provided by sensors that are directly connected to each of the legs or to the actuators for the legs. However, a more accurate approach uses separate instrument arms. Such an ar¬ rangement is shown in Fig. 7.

In Fig. 7, a six legged machine tool of the embodiment shown in Figs. 3-6 has separate instrument arms 130 and 131 assodated with respective powered legs 44 and 45, respectively. The instrument arms 130 and 131 are each linearly extensible and are connected at thdr lower ends to the base platform 30 by trunnion joints 132 and at their upper ends to the spindle platform 31 by trunnion joints 133. The trunnion joints 132 and 133 are the same in structure and operation as the joints 50 and 54 used to connect power legs 44 and 45 to the platforms 30 and 31.

The instrument arms 130 and 131 are used solely for the pur¬ pose of sensing the relative positions of the platforms. The instrument arms can indude a sensing head traveling along a magnetic scale to provide the desired feedback signal as to length and therefore as to po- sition. Other forms of instrument arms can also be used. The advan¬ tage in using the separate instrument arms is that the load deflections that will occur in the power legs and thdr joints will not be translated into errors in the position of the cutting tool. The instrument arms be¬ ing smaller and lighter and carrying no weight other than thdr own, are not subject to the same forces and deflections to which the powered legs are subject.

Although the- instrument arms 130 and 131 are shown mounted parallel with respective power legs, it is not necessary for the instrument arms to be so mounted. Instrument arms are not required to be assodated with any particular power leg. It is, however, necessary to have at least six instrument arms to provide an unambiguous set of signals for the positions of the supports or platforms relative to each other.

In the fourth embodiment of Fig. 11, one of the platforms is elevated and the second platform is suspended from the first platform on the six legs. Specifically, a support structure is formed from three upright columns 140 joined together by a triangular framework of members 141. A spindle housing 142 is supported on the triangular framework of members 141 with a spindle 143 pointing downwardly towards a workpiece platform 144. The workpiece platform 144 is sus¬ pended on six extensible powered legs 145-150 which are arranged in pairs of crossing legs, similar to the arrangement of the legs 40-45 in the second embodiment of Figs. 3, 4 and 5. The workpiece platform 144 may mount a pallet with a workpiece (not shown) in the usual man- ner. The legs 145-150 are pivotally joined at their upper ends to the members 141 and at their lower ends to the workpiece platform 144 in a manner similar to that of the second embodiment.

One advantage of suspending a platform on the six legs is that in case of a gross power failure which could cause the power legs to lose their ability to support a platform, the work platform 144 would move away from the spindle. This would result in no damage to d- ther the spindle, the tool, or the workpiece because there would be no collision between the parts. In contrast, in an arrangement as shown in the first and second embodiments, a gross power failure in which the power legs lose their ability to support a platform could result in the spindle crashing into the workpiece or workpiece support.

Instead of the workpiece platform being suspended beneath the spindle platform, the workpiece platform could be above a sus¬ pended spindle platform. Then, chips would naturally fall away from the workpiece.

The fifth embodiment of Fig. 12 also suspends a workpiece platform from a support. In addition, it provides an instrument arm associated with each of the six power legs and a spoke-like system of connections of the ends of the powered legs and instrument arms to the platform and support.

Specifically, the fifth embodiment of Fig. 12 has three upright columns 155 joined at their base by three I-beams 156 (two of the beams are shown foreshortened for clarity). The top of each column 155 car¬ ries a bearing plate 157 on which a vibration isolation member such as a coil spring 158 rests. A spindle housing 159 has three radiating sup- port arms 160 in the form of I-beams. The outer ends of the support arms 160 each mounts a bearing plate 161 which rest upon a respective isolation member 158.

The spindle head 159 is mounted on top a ring platform 162 from which two series of spokes 163 and 164 project. The spokes 163 and 164 are of two lengths that alternate around the ring platform 162 and the spokes mount the universal joints 165 that connect the upper ends of six powered legs 166 to the platform 162. The lower ends of the powered legs 166 are connected to universal joints 167 mounted at the ends of spokes 168 and 169 which project radially from a ring-like work platform 170. The spokes 163, 164 and 168, 169 are of different lengths to accommodate the overlapping and crossing arrangement of the powered legs 166, which is similar to that in the second and fourth em¬ bodiments. A similar arrangement of rings and spokes is used to mount universal joints at the ends of six instrument arms 171. That is, a sec¬ ond ring structure 172 is disposed beneath the ring support 162 at the spindle end and about the spindle 173. A series of radially projecting spokes 174 and 175 of two different lengths project from the ring 172. The bottom workpiece platform 170 contains a second ring 176 from which two series of spokes 177 and 178 project to mount the universal joints at the bottom ends of the instrument arms 171. The instrument arms 171 are arranged in pairs of crossing arms in the same manner as the powered legs 166. The use of spokes emanating from the platform allows the powered legs and instrument arms to be removed from dose proximity to the central axis of the spindle head and workpiece support with the result that it is easier to load a workpiece onto the workpiece platform. This is illustrated in Fig. 12 in which a phantom line identifies a cubic workpiece which could be accepted by the machine tool and it may be noted that there is an opening through the powered legs 166 and in¬ strument arms 171 to accommodate the insertion and removal of a workpiece of that size.

The ring structure 172 and the ring 176 can be structurally in- dependent from the ring platform 162 and the work platform 170, the instrument arms 171 can be structurally isolated from the deflections of the platforms induced by the powered legs 166.

The sixth embodiment of Fig. 13 arranges three of the six legs in a different attitude than that of the prior embodiments. Specifically, three of the legs are mounted in or near a common plane that indudes the upper platform. As shown in Fig. 13, a base 180 of generally trian¬ gular shape mounts triangular columns 181 at each of its corners. Three powered legs 182, 183 and 184 extend from imiversal joints dis¬ posed near the upper end of each of the columns 181. The other ends of the three legs 182, 183 and 84 are mounted in universal joints at the corners of a triangular spindle platform 185 which mounts a spindle head 186. The remaining three powered legs 187, 188 and 189 extend from imiversal joints in the base 180 upward to the three corners of the triangular spindle platform 185. A workpiece platform 190 rests on the base 180 within the envelope of the three lower legs 187, 188 and 189.

The embodiment of Fig. 13 functions in the same manner as the other embodiments and demonstrates that it is not necessary for the legs to extend between two planes, so long as the legs extend be¬ tween the two platforms. The six legs in the embodiment of Fig. 13 ex- tend from the workpiece platform represented by the base 180 and its columns 181, and to the spindle platform 185.

Figs. 14-17 illustrate a ball screw driven powered leg usable with the machines of the present invention. Generally, a rotatable ball screw rod 195 is mounted with a stationary platform yoke assembly in- dicated generally by the reference numeral 196. A nut tube 197 sur¬ rounds and is operatively connected to the ball screw rod by a plurality of recirculating balls 197'. The nut tube 197 is connected to a movable platform yoke assembly indicated generally by the numeral 198. The yoke assemblies 196 and 198 are connected to the stationary and mov- able platforms of the machine tool, respectively. The ball screw rod 195 is rotated by a hydraulic or electric motor 199 mounted on a bracket 200 connected to the stationary yoke assembly 196. The motor has an out¬ put shaft 201 connected to the ball screw rod 195 by a toothed belt 202 operating between pulleys connectively to the output shaft 201 and the ball screw rod 195. The ball screw rod 195 is journaled in a pair of thrust bearings 203 mounted in a cage assodated with a motor fork 204 that forms part of the stationary platform yoke assembly 196. A bdlows 205 is connected at one end to the nut tube 197 and at the other end to a tube 206 which, in turn, is connected to the motor fork 204. As the ball screw rod 195 is rotated by the motor 199, the nut tube 197 will move along the length of the rod 195 in a direction de¬ pendent upon the direction of rotation of the rod 195. The effect will be to reduce or extend the distance between the yoke assemblies 196 and 198 thereby varying the effective length of the leg. Referring spedfically to Figs. 15-17, the movable platform yoke assembly 198 indudes a U-shaped fork 210 whid is connected to the nut tube 197 and which has a central opening 211 through which the screw rod 195 passes. A protective tube 212 extends from the fork 210 along the outside of the screw rod 195. The side arms 213 and 214 of the fork 210 mount bearing holders 215 that hold the inner race of thrust bearings 216 which are recdved in recesses in opposite side faces of a block 217. The block 217 has a central opening 220 which is flared from the mid-point of the opening towards the opposite ends of the block 217, as shown in Fig. 16. The remaining two side faces of the block 217 have bearing recesses 221 which receive thrust bearings 222 held in place by a bearing retainers 223. The bearing retainers 223 are mounted in spaced arms 224 of a second fork attached to the movable platform. By reason of the construction, the two forks are disposed at 90° from each other. As will be appredated, the yoke assembly 198 allows rotary motion about an axis through the bearings 222 and rotary motion about an axis through the bearings 216. The flared shape of the opening 220 accommodates the latter rotary motion. The construction and opera¬ tion of the fixed platform yoke assembly 196 is the same as that de- scribed for the movable platform yoke assembly 198.

Mounting the yoke assemblies at points along the length of the powered leg, rather than at the ends, results in a significant increase in the ratio of the maximum to minimum distance between the yoke assemblies as the leg moves. A first proximity switch 225 is mounted in the nut tube 197 near the cage for the balls. A second proximity switch 226 is mounted near the end of the protective tube 212. The proximity switches 225 and 226 are used to halt motion when the ball screw rod 195 reaches the limits of its allowed motion. That is, when the end of the ball screw rod 195 changes the state of the proximity switch 226, the power leg will have been shortened to its pre-established limit of travel. The condi¬ tion showing Fig. 14 is near that short limit of travel. On the other hand, when the end of the ball screw 195 changes the state of the prox- imity switch 225, the length of the powered leg will have been extended to its maximum desired limit. In both cases, the proximity switches 225 and 226 affect the continued actuation of the motor 199.

One form of instrument arm usable with the machine tools of the present invention, is illustrated in Figs. 18 and 19. One end of the instrument arm is formed with a solid rod 230 which anchors one end of a first tube 231. The other end of the tube 231 mounts a slide bearing 232 which slides about the outer one of a pair of concentric sta¬ tionary tubes 233 and 234. The stationary tubes 233 and 234 are each an¬ chored on a rod 235 forming the opposite end of the instrument arm. An outer protedive tube 236 is also anchored to the second rod 235 and surrounds the first tube 231. It can be seen, therefore, that the first tube 231 can telescope relative to the stationary tubes 233 and 234 and the protective tube 236.

One end of a scale rod 238 is anchored in the solid rod end 230 of the instrument arm. The opposite end of the scale rod 238 is at¬ tached to a piston 239 which slides within the inner stationary tube 234. A read head 240 surrounds the scale rod and is attached to the free end of the inner and outer stationary tubes 233 and 234. The read head 240 is therefore stationary with respect to the fixed end 235 of the instru- ment arm and the scale rod 238 can move longitudinally within the read head 240 as the instrument arm is extended or contracted. The scale rod 238 and reading head 240 are of known construction and op¬ eration. Generally, the read head will sense increments of motion along the scale rod as the two are moved relative to each other and will produce a signal which when amplified is used in a known manner to indicate the relative position and changes in position of the two parts. A usable digital positioning measuring system of scale rod and read head may be that built by Sokki Electronics Corporation and identified as the JS7 series of digital positioning systems. It is important in the operation of the read head and scale rod that the scale rod be kept taut. To that end, air pressure is introduced to act upon the piston 239 which mounts one end of the scale rod 238. The air under pressure is introduced through a central bore 245 in the fixed end 235 of the instrument arm and the air under pressure travels through the space between the inner and outer tubes 233 and 234 and to and through an opening 246 in the inner tube 234 adjacent its attach¬ ment to the read head 240. This introduces pressurized air to the hol¬ low interior of the inner tube 234 in which the piston 239 rides. An orifice passageway 247 extends longitudinally through the read head 240 so that the space between the solid rod 230 of the instrument arm and the read head 240 is connected to the hollow interior a vacuum is not created in that space as the two ends of the instrument arm move relative to each other. The space between the inner and outer station¬ ary tubes 233 and 234 is also used to accommodate wiring 248 connect- ing the read head to the exterior of the instrument arm.

The instrument arm is preferably mounted in a manner sim¬ ilar to that of the powered legs using yoke assemblies. As with the powered legs, to increase the ratio of the maximum to minimum dis¬ tance between the yoke assemblies, the yoke assemblies are preferably mounted intermediate the ends such as at the locations 249 and 250 identified in Fig. 18.

The movable end 230 of the instrument arm includes a transverse casting 255 having an inlet 256 and an outlet 257 for air un¬ der pressure. The inlet and outlet are connected to a central circular raceway 258 in which a ball bearing 259 is disposed. Air under pressure introduced into the casting 255 will cause the ball bearing 259 to roll rapidly along the raceway 258. This will induce an eccentric motion to the end 230 of the instrument arm about the longitudinal axis of the arm. This eccentric motion is useful to insure that the telescoping el- ements of the instrument arm can slide smoothly with respect to each other. At the same time, the vibratory motion induced by the spinning ball bearing 259 is in a direction transverse to the direction of motion being measured and therefore does not significantly affect that mea¬ surement. Fig. 20 illustrates a form of instrument arm which uses a laser interferometer. The instrument arm is formed of concentric in¬ ner and outer tubes 260 and 261, respectively, that slide past each other on bearings 262 which preferably are made of a polytetraflouride mate¬ rial. A bellows 263 connects the end of the outer tube 261 to the outside of the inner tube 260 so as to close off the volume within the tubes and prevent contamination through the bearings 262. A laser beam from a laser light source 264 enters the hollow interior of the instrument leg through a window 265 and is reflected off a mirror 266 into an interfer¬ ometer 267 where it is divided into two components. One component exits the interferometer and travels inside of the tubes to a retro-reflec¬ tor 268 which is mounted at the closed end of the outer tube 261. Light is reflected back down the tubes towards the interferometer 267. The two light beam components are recombined within the interferometer 267 and the combined components interfere with each either construc- tively or destructively depending on their phase. A photo detector within the laser source 264 detects the fringes that result from the inter¬ ferences between the two components of the light beam as the retro-re¬ flector 268 moves relative to the interferometer. The phase is depen¬ dent upon the distance between the interferometer 267 and the retro- reflector 268 and the fringes are therefore indicative of changes in length of the instrument arm.

The number of light waves in transit between the interfer¬ ometer 267 and the retro-reflector 268 depends not only on the distance between the two but also on the speed of light. The speed of light in air is dependent upon the atmospheric pressure, temperature and humid¬ ity. Pressure and temperature have the largest effect and therefore they must be known if the distance between the interferometer and retro-re¬ flector is to be calculated based on the number of fringes. The air within the interior of the instrument arm is vented to a collapsible bladder 270. As the instrument arm expands, it displaces air that is -20-

stored within the bladder 270. The bladder 270 is limp at all times so that the pressure within the arm is equal to the ambient pressure out¬ side of the arm. A single pressure transducer can then be used for all of the instrument arms to determine the pressure of the air through which the light beam is passing.

A temperature measurement transducer 271 senses the in¬ ternal temperature in each instrument arm since the temperature may be localized. The effect of humidity is negligible and is ignored.

Instead of an instrument arm that has a structural integrity, it is possible to use known forms of position transducers to measure the distance between the platforms. An example of a usable position transducer is the cable actuated displacement transducers available from Houston Scientific International, Inc. and identified as the 1850 Series. In using such a transducer, a cable would be connected to one of the platforms and the transducer housing to the other platform. A po¬ tentiometer within the housing would provide a signal indicative of the length of cable extending from the housing at any particular posi¬ tion of the machine tool components.

A combination of measurements using the power legs and instrument arms can also be used to speed up positioning of the com¬ ponents of the machines. For example, the powered legs could be pro¬ vided with a linear scale (such as in Fig. 8) or a rotary resolver or shaft encoder (such as in Fig. 9) to provide a position feedback signal that al¬ lows a gross positioning of the platforms relative to each other. An as- sodated instrument arm could then be used for fine positioning with the powered legs being moved at a slower rate to the final desired posi¬ tion.

The angles that the powered legs make with the platforms will effect the stiffness of the machine and the accuracy of the position- ing of the tool relative to the workpiece. The optimum position of the legs relative to the platforms for achieving optimum vertical and hori¬ zontal stiffness would be about 35°. This assumes that each platform exhibits stiffness along its orthagonal axes. For achieving the best ver¬ tical and horizontal resolutions to achieve accuracy, at nominal posi- tions the optimum angle of the legs relative to the platforms is about 41°.

The typical part program for a machine tool is designed to provide blocks of instruction concerning the X,Y,Z,A,B,C coordinates of the tool tip and workpiece relative to each other. Because the six legs of a machine tool in accordance with the present invention do not align themselves with the normal orthagonal coordinates, a method must be developed to relate the normal coordinate block instructions to the length of the six legs. The following method has been developed for that purpose. The steps are arranged in logic sequence form and can be summarized as follows:

I. Initializing present machine X,Y,Z,A,B,C coordinates

π. For each of six legs:

A. Initialize top and bottom pivot vector coordinates. B. Calculate and initialize present leg length.

C. Define X,Y,Z,A,B,C home position for present leg length.

m. Set sub-block time (typically 0.02 seconds) sufficiently short to achieve desired linearity and precision of movement.

IV. For each part program: A. For each block:

1. From the part program read machine coordinates of destination; X,Y,Z,A,B,C and feed rate

2. Using feed rate and sub-block time, compute the number of sub-blocks required to reach block desti- nation.

3. For each sub-block:

(a) For each of six coordinates:

1. Present value = ending value of previ¬ ous sub-block. 2. Ending value = (destination value mi¬ nus present value) divided by number of sub-blocks remaining plus present value.

Figure imgf000024_0001

-22-

(b) Using the ending value of the six coordi¬ nates, compose a sub-block ending vector

(c) For each leg:

1. Rotate the top pivot vector to the ending an- gles for the current sub-block.

2. Add a sub-block ending vertor to the result.

3. Subtract the bottom pivot vector from the re¬ sult.

4. Calculate the ending leg length by extracting the square root of the sum of the squares of the coordinates of the result of step (c) 3.

5. Convert the ending leg length to the nearest integral servo position command count.

6. Send the position count to a servo command buffer.

7. Calculate the leg velodty required to reach new leg length in one sub-block time.

8. Convert the leg vdodty to the nearest integral servo command count. 9. Send velocity count to the servo command buffer.

(d) Send sub-block start command simultaneously to all leg servos.

B. A block is completed when no sub-blocks remain.

V. The task is completed when no blocks remain in the part pro¬ gram.

Initializing the present machine is a process which is known in the machine tool art as gridding. It establishes a home position in which the tip of the tool and the center of the workpiece cube are coin- ddent.

A top pivot vector is the vector of the tool tip relative to a top pivot point for a particular leg. A bottom pivot vector is the vector of the center of the workpiece cube relative to a bottom pivot for a partic¬ ular leg. The top pivot vedors remain at a fixed length but can rotate through the A,B,C coordinates. Fig. 21 is a vector diagram that illus¬ trates the relationship of a block vector and the resulting leg vector which must be provided to achieve the instructed block vector. It should be understood that all of the vectors have three dimensions, even though they are illustrated in only two dimensions in Fig. 21.

Note that not only is the length of the leg vector important, the rate of movement of the legs is very important because controlling the rate of movement allows for contouring.

Although the invention has been described in relation to machine tools, it is also the usable in connection with any machine that requires that an operator be brought into position with respect to an objed. It is also useful for a wide variety of tools other than the tra¬ ditional cutting tool.

Claims

1. A machine tool for locating a tool relative to a workpiece, comprising the combination of: a pair of spaced supports, the tool being located with respect to one of the supports and the workpiece being located with respect to the other of the supports; six leg members with each leg member being joined at a first point to one of the supports and being joined to the other support at a second point mat is spaced along the leg member from the first point; and means for individually manipulating at least certain of the leg members to vary the position of the points of such leg members rela¬ tive to each other.
2. A machine tool in accordance with claim 1 wherein the six leg members are arranged in pairs with the leg members of each pair crossing each other.
3. A machine tool in accordance with daim 1 together with con¬ trol means for coordinating said manipulating means for at least some of the leg members.
4. A machine tool in accordance with daim 1 wherein a first of said supports defines a base for the machine tool and the other sup¬ port is held above the first support by the six leg members.
5. A machine tool in accordance with claim 1 wherein one of said supports is suspended beneath the other support by the six leg members.
6. A mechanism for locating an operator relative to an ob¬ ject, comprising the combination of: an operator support and an object support spaced from each other; six leg members with each leg member being joined at one point to one of the supports and being operatively connected to the other support at another point that is spaced along the leg member from the one point, the areas in the two supports drcumscribed by the junctions of the leg members in each support being substantially the same; and means for individually manipulating at least certain of the leg members to vary the position of the points of such leg members rela¬ tive to each other to thereby alter the position of the operator with re- sped to the object.
7. A mechanism in accordance with claim 6 together with means for sensing the changes in positions of the points of the leg members; and control means responsive to the sensing means, said control means coordinating said manipulating means.
8. A mechanism in accordance with daim 6 wherein the six leg members are arranged in pairs with the leg members of each pair crossing each other.
9. A machine tool for locating a tool relative to a workpiece, comprising the combination of: an upright rising from a base; a pair of spaced platforms, the tool being fixed with respect to one of the platforms and the workpiece being fixed with respect to the other of the platforms, a first of the platforms being supported on said upright; and six powered extensible legs connecting the platforms and sus¬ pending the second platform from the first platform.
10. A machine tool in accordance with daim 9 together with vibration dampening means in the support of the first platform to said upright.
11. In a machine tool, the combination comprising: a first platform adapted to mount a tool; a second platform adapted to mount a workpiece; six linearly extensible legs each pivotably mounted adjacent one end to the first platform and each pivotably mounted adjacent the other end to the second platform, the pivot mountings in each plat¬ form circumscribing an area, and the areas in each of the two platforms bdng substantially the same; and means for individually varying the length of each leg to alter the position of the first platform and the tool with respect to the second platform and the workpiece.
12. A machine tool in accordance with claim 11, wherein the pivot mountings for the legs attached to the first platform are disposed adjacent three points defining a triangle and the pivot mountings for the legs attached to the second platform are disposed adjacent three points defining a second triangle, and the two triangles and the six legs generally define edges of an octahedron.
13. A machine tool in accordance with claim 11, wherein the pivot mountings of the legs to the platforms define the corners of a six- sided polygon in each platform.
14. A machine tool in accordance with claim 11 wherein said tool is a cutting tool mounted in a spindle attached to the first plat¬ form, and the second platform defines a fixed base for the machine tool and mounts a workpiece support that mounts the workpiece.
15. A machine tool in accordance with claim 11 wherein the first platform defines a fixed base for the machine, and the second plat¬ form is moved relative to the first platform.
16. In a machine tool having a tool holder and a workpiece support, the combination of: an upright rising from a base that is fixed with respect to the workpiece support; a platform mounting the tool holder; six linearly extensible legs, three of said legs connecting the plat¬ form to the upright and three of said legs connecting the platform to the base; and means for individually varying the length of each leg to alter the position of the tool holder with resped to the workpiece support.
17. A mechanism for locating an operator relative to an ob¬ ject, comprising: a pair of supports, the operator being located with respect to one of the supports and the object being located with respect to the other support; six powered and controllable extensible legs connecting the sup¬ ports together in spaced relation; an actuator for each leg for individually extending and contract¬ ing the length of the leg; and a control for the leg actuators to coordinate the operation of the actuators to vary the position of the operator relative to the object, the control induding sensing means for determining the length of each of the six legs, the sensing means induding a plurality of extensible in¬ strument arms connected between the supports in a fixed relation to the legs so that a change in length of the legs alters the relationship be¬ tween the supports which translates into changes in length of the in¬ strument arms.
18. A mechanism in accordance with daim 17 wherein the instrument arms each indude a sensor providing a signal proportional to dianges in length of said instrument arm.
19. A mechanism in accordance with claim 18 wherein each instrument arm includes two telescoping parts each joined respectively with one of said supports.
20. A mechanism in accordance with claim 19 wherein the sensor comprises a scale rod connected to one of the telescoping parts and a read head connected to the other telescoping part to provide a digital signal of the movement of the read head along the scale rod.
21. A mechanism in accordance with claim 19 wherein the sensor comprises a laser interferometer associated with one of the tele¬ scoping parts and a retro-reflector assodated with the other part.
22. A mechanism in accordance with claim 17 wherein there are six instrument arms with one arm assodated with each powered leg.
23. A mechanism in accordance with claim 22 wherein the six powered legs are arranged in pairs with the legs of each pair crossing each other, and the six instrument arms are arranged in pairs with the arms of each pair crossing each other.
24. In a machine tool having a tool holder and a workpiece support, the combination comprising: a tool holder platform locating the tool holder; a workpiece support platform locating the workpiece support; six powered and controlled extensible legs connecting the plat¬ forms together in spaced relation, each of the legs being joined to the workpiece support platform at one point along the length of the leg and bdng joined to the tool holder platform at a second spaced point along the length of the leg; an actuator for each leg for individually extending and contract¬ ing the length of the leg; and a control for the leg actuators to coordinate the operation of the actuators to vary the position of the tool holder relative to the work¬ piece support, said control induding sensing means for determining the length of eadi of the six legs, the sensing means induding a plurality of extensible instrument arms connected between said platforms in a known relation to the legs so that a change in length of the legs alters the relationship between the platforms which translates into changes in length of the instrument arms.
25. A machine tool in accordance with daim 24 wherein the in¬ strument arms each indude a sensor providing a signal proportional to changes in length of said instrument arm.
26. A machine tool in accordance with daim 24 wherein ead powered leg includes two telescoping parts, one of which is joined to the tool holder platform and the other of which is joined to the work¬ piece support platform.
27. A machine tool in accordance with claim 26 together with means preventing the two telescoping parts from rotating with respect to each other, one of the connections of each leg to a platform having three degrees of freedom of motion and the other connection of the leg to the other platform having two degrees of freedom of motion.
28. A machine tool for locating a tool relative to a workpiece, comprising the combination of: a pair of spaced supports, the tool being located with respect to one of the supports and in the space between the supports and the workpiece being located with respect to the other of the supports and in the space between the supports; six leg members with each leg member being joined at a first point to one of the supports and being joined to the other support at a second point that is spaced along the leg member from the first point, the areas in the two supports circumscribed by the junctions of the leg members in each support being substantially the same; and means for individually manipulating at least certain of the leg members to vary the position of the points of such leg members rela¬ tive to each other.
29. In a machine tool, the combination comprising: a first platform adapted to mount a tool; a second platform adapted to mount a workpiece; the platforms bdng spaced apart with the tool and the workpiece adapted to be located in the space between the platforms; six linearly extensible legs each pivotably mounted adjacent one end to the first platform and each pivotably mounted adjacent the other end to the second platform, the pivot mountings in each plat¬ form circumscribing an area, and the areas in each of the two platforms being substantially the same; and means for individually varying the length of each leg to alter the position of the first platform and the tool with respect to the second platform and the workpiece.
30. In a machine tool having a tool holder and a workpiece sup¬ port, the combination comprising: a tool holder platform locating the tool holder; a workpiece support platform locating the workpiece support; the platforms being spaced apart and the tool holder and work¬ piece support being disposed between the platforms; six powered and controlled extensible legs connecting the plat¬ forms together in spaced relation, each of the legs being joined to the workpiece support platform at one point along the length of the leg and being joined to the tool holder platform at a second spaced point along the length of the leg, the areas in the two platforms drcum- scribed by the junctions of the leg members in each platform bdng sub¬ stantially the same; an actuator for each leg for individually extending and contract- ing the length of the leg; and a control for the leg actuators to coordinate the operation of the actuators to vary the position of the tool holder relative to the work¬ piece support, said control induding sensing means for continuously determining the length of each of the six legs.
31. In a machine tool having a spindle and a workpiece sup¬ port, the combination comprising: a fixed base platform mounting the workpiece support; a movable platform mounting the spindle; the platforms being spaced apart and the workpiece support and spindle being located in the space between the platforms; six powered and controlled extensible legs connecting the plat¬ forms together in spaced relation, each of the legs being pivotally at¬ tached adjacent its ends to the platforms, the areas in the two platforms drcumscribed by the pivot attachments of the legs in each platform be¬ ing substantially the same; an actuator for each leg for extending and contracting the length of the leg; and a control for the actuators to coordinate the operation of the ac- tuators to vary the position of the spindle relative to the workpiece support, said control including sensing means for determining the length of each of the six legs.
32. A machine tool in accordance with claim 31, wherein the legs are attached to the base platform adjacent three points defining a triangle and the legs are attached to the movable platform adjacent three points defining a second triangle, and the sides of the two trian¬ gles and the six legs generally define edges of an odahedron.
33. A mechanism for locating an operator relative to an ob- jed, comprising the combination of: an operator support and an object support spaced from each other; six leg members with each leg member bdng joined at one point to one of the supports and being operatively connected to the other support at another point that is spaced along the leg member from the one point, the six leg members being arranged in pairs with the leg mem- bers of each pair crossing each other; and means for individually manipulating at least certain of the leg members to vary the position of the points of such leg members rela¬ tive to each other to thereby alter the position of the operator with re¬ spect to the object.
34. A mechanism for locating an operator relative to an ob¬ ject, comprising: a pair of spaced supports, the operator being located with respect to one of the supports and in the space between the supports and the object being located with respect to the other support and in the space between the supports; and six powered extensible legs with each leg attached at spaced points to the two supports by respective joints, the joints for the legs attached to each support being disposed adjacent three points defining a triangle, the areas of the triangles in the two supports being substantially the same and the two triangles and six legs generally defining edges of an octahedron.
35. A mechanism for locating an operator relative to an ob¬ ject, comprising: a pair of spaced supports, the operator being located with respect to one of the supports and in the space between the supports and the objed being located with respect to the other support and in the space between the supports; and six powered extensible legs having the lengths thereof individu¬ ally controlled with each leg attached at spaced points to the two sup¬ ports by respective joints, the areas in the two supports drcumscribed by the joints in each support being substantially the same.
36. A method of locating an operator relative to an object, comprising the steps of: fixing the operator relative to a first support; mounting the object relative to a second support; connecting the supports together by six leg members each being joined at one point along its length to one of the supports and being operatively connected to the other support at a point that is spaced along the leg member from the one point; locating the junctions of the leg members with the supports such that the areas circumscribed by the junctions in each of the two sup¬ ports is substantially the same; and manipulating the leg members to vary the position of the points of such leg members relative to each other to thereby provide three linear degrees of motion and three rotational degrees of motion, or any combination thereof, to the operator relative to the object.
37. A method of locating a tool relative to a workpiece, compris¬ ing the steps of: locating the tool rdative to a first platform; mounting the workpiece on a support that is located with respect to a second platform; connecting the platforms together by six extensible legs with each leg attached adjacent one end to one of the platforms and adjacent the other end of the leg to the other of the platforms; and simultaneously manipulating the length of the six legs to pro- vide three linear degrees of motion and three rotational degrees of mo¬ tion, or any combination thereof, to the tool relative to the workpiece.
38. A method of locating the tip of a cutting tool rdative to the surface of a workpiece, comprising: mounting the cutting tool in a tool holder attached to a first plat¬ form; mounting the workpiece on a support that is fixed with respect to a second platform; connecting the platforms together by six extensible legs with each leg attached adjacent one end to one of the platforms and adjacent the other end of the leg to the other of the platforms; restraining one of the platforms against movement; and changing the length of the six legs simultaneously to provide motion to the tool tip relative to the surface of the workpiece along three linear axes and in three rotational directions, or any combination thereof.
39. A method of locating an operator relative to an object, com¬ prising the steps of: fixing the operator relative to a first support; mounting the objed relative to a second support; connecting the supports together by powered extensible leg members connected to the supports at spaced points along thdr length; joining the supports by extensible instrument arms each adapted to produce a signal representative of changes in its length; and manipulating the leg members to vary the lengths of the leg members to thereby move the operator to a desired position of the op¬ erator relative to the object, said manipulation being responsive to the signals from the instrument arm.
40. A method of locating a tool relative to a workpiece, com¬ prising the steps of: locating the tool relative to a first support; mounting the workpiece relative to a second support; spacing the supports apart with the tool and workpiece disposed in the space between the supports; connecting the supports together by six leg members each being joined at one point along its length to one of the supports and bdng operatively connected to the other support at a point that is spaced along the leg member from the one point; locating the junctions of the leg members with the supports such that the areas in the Jtwo supports circumscribed by the junctions of the leg members in the supports is substantially the same; and manipulating the leg members to vary the position of the points of such leg members relative to each other to thereby provide three linear degrees of motion and three rotational degrees of motion, or any combination thereof, to the operator relative to the object.
41. A mechanism for locating an operator rdative to an ob¬ ject, comprising: a pair of spaced supports, the operator being located with respect to one of the supports and the object being located with respect to the other support; and six extensible legs joining the supports, each leg comprising a ball screw rod and a nut tube surrounding the rod and joined thereto by recirculating balls, a first yoke assembly mounted with the ball screw rod to connect the leg to a first of said supports, and a second yoke as- sembly mounted to the nut tube to connect the leg to the second of said supports, and a motor connected to rotate said ball screw rod.
42. A mechanism in accordance with claim 41 wherein eadi yoke assembly includes a pair of forks rotatably attached to side faces of a support cube, one of the forks bdng connected to a respective support and the other fork bdng connected to the leg, said cube having a central opening to receive the screw rod.
43. A mechanism in accordance with claim 41, together with a protective tube surrounding said ball screw rod and proximity switches on said protective tube and nut tube to provide a signal when the ball screw rod has reached the limits of acceptable motion with re¬ spect to the nut tube.
44. An extensible sensor arm for determining the distance be¬ tween spaced supports, comprising: a pair of rods defining opposite ends of the arm; a pair of telescoping tubes each joined to one of the end rods and adapted to slide relative to each other; position sensing means including two elements each assodated with one of the tubes and its respedive rod to produce a signal of the linear position of the elements relative to each other; a housing attached to one of the rods, the housing having an in- ternal fluid raceway connected to a fluid inlet and a fluid outlet, the raceway being transverse to the longitudinal axis of the arm; and a ball in the raceway that will travel the raceway upon the appli¬ cation of fluid pressure to provide a transverse vibration to the arm.
45. An extensible sensor arm in accordance with claim 44 wherein the position sensing means includes a scale rod and a read head, the scale rod being anchored at one end to one of said rods and being attached at its other end to a piston that slides within the inner telescoping tube, together with means for introducing fluid pressure against the piston to keep the scale rod taut.
46. An extensible sensor arm for determining the distance be¬ tween spaced supports, comprising: a pair of telescoping tubes adapted to slide relative to each other; a retro-refledor disposed at the dosed end of one of the tubes; a laser interferometer disposed at the closed end of the other tube; and a laser beam source for causing a laser beam to travel the inter¬ nal length of the arm from the interferometer to the retro-reflector and back again.
47. A sensor arm in accordance with daim 46 wherein the tubes are dosed to the surrounding atmosphere, and the interior of the arm is vented to a limp bladder so that the internal pressure in the arm can be maintained at atmospheric pressure while the internal volume of the arm changes.
48. , A method of converting machine coordinate part pro¬ gram instructions to control a machine in which a plurality of powered extensible legs join a first platform that locates an operator and a spaced second platform that locates an object, comprising the steps of: gridding the machine to its initial coordinates; for each leg, initializing the coordinates of an operator vector ex¬ tending from the operator to the joint of the leg in the first platform and of an object vector extending from the object to the joint of the leg in the second platform; determining and initializing the present leg length for each leg; determining the machine coordinates of the destination called for by a part program block of instructions, and determining a block vector for the operator rdative to the object to achieve the destination; and for each leg, rotating the operator vector to the ending angles for the block of information, adding the block vector to the result, subtract¬ ing the object vector from the result, and calculating the ending leg length.
49. A method in accordance with claim 48 together with the additional steps of: setting a sub-block time; reading the feed rate in each block of information; calculating the number of sub-blocks needed to reach a block des¬ tination based upon the sub-block time and the feed rate; using the sub-block destination information to determine the block vector; and determining the leg displacement and vdocity required to reach the ending leg length in one sub-block time.
50. A mechanism for joining spaced platforms, comprising: six legs connecting the platforms together, each of the legs being joined at one point to one of the platforms and being operatively con¬ nected to the other platform at another point that is spaced from the one point; the six legs being arranged in pairs with the legs of each pair crossing each other; and means for individually manipulating at least certain of the legs to vary the positions of the points of such legs relative to each other to thereby alter the position of the platforms with respect to each other.
PCT/US1990/004797 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 Six axis machine tool WO1991003145A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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US401,909 1989-09-01

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BR9007632A BR9007632A (en) 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 six-axis machine tool and method for placing an operator in relation to an object
DE1990627931 DE69027931T2 (en) 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 Six-axis machine tool
EP19900914272 EP0489857B1 (en) 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 Six axis machine tool
DE1990627931 DE69027931D1 (en) 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 Six-axis machine tool
AU64300/90A AU655157B2 (en) 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 Six axis machine tool
KR92700466A KR950006371B1 (en) 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 Six axis machine tool
SU5011489 RU2076020C1 (en) 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 Machine tool for mounting tool relative to blank
US07/835,949 US5354158A (en) 1989-09-01 1990-08-28 Six axis machine tool

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JP (1) JP3083841B2 (en)
AT (1) AT140648T (en)
AU (1) AU655157B2 (en)
BR (1) BR9007632A (en)
CA (1) CA2065260A1 (en)
DE (2) DE69027931T2 (en)
HU (1) HUT61498A (en)
RU (1) RU2076020C1 (en)
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US5354158A (en) 1994-10-11
US5466085A (en) 1995-11-14
US5489168A (en) 1996-02-06
DE69027931D1 (en) 1996-08-29
RU2076020C1 (en) 1997-03-27
AT140648T (en) 1996-08-15
HU9200671D0 (en) 1992-09-28
CA2065260A1 (en) 1991-03-02
AU6430090A (en) 1991-04-08
EP0489857A4 (en) 1993-05-05
US5028180A (en) 1991-07-02
EP0489857B1 (en) 1996-07-24
EP0489857A1 (en) 1992-06-17
JP3083841B2 (en) 2000-09-04
HUT61498A (en) 1993-01-28
DE69027931T2 (en) 1997-02-27
JPH05500337A (en) 1993-01-28
AU655157B2 (en) 1994-12-08
BR9007632A (en) 1992-07-07

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